Self drive trip through Uganda – part 5 – Lake Mburo and Kampala

We made a 16 day trip to Uganda in June 2022, a trip we had planned for the fall of 2021, but some virus decided otherwise. We chose to self drive and stay multiple days in each national park. I organised and planned the whole trip myself, read up a lot in guide books and travel blogs, asked advice from other travellers on Tripadvisor forums, booked a flight and all the lodgings, rented a car, renewed some vaccinations, got malaria prophylaxis and put a medical first aid kit together. I finally stressed out a bit cause this was our first trip to Eastern Africa, and apart from North Africa to Africa as a whole. But we really loved the country, its people, its beautiful nature, its wildlife, the lodgings and the food! So for everyone planning a trip to Uganda I share my travel diary in several parts.

After breakfast and checking out at Broadbill Forest Camp, we drove to Lake Mburo national park, a 5 hour drive, which took us longer since we drove quite slowly through Bwindi and we made a stop in Kabale to fuel up the car and to change some dollars into UGX. In Kabale we took a turn right and drove 5 km towards Bunyonyi lake to take in the view. On this road you pass queries were locals dig up stones for road construction. A harsh and dusty job where children were also put at work. We reached Hyena Hill lodge in Mburo between 4 and 5 PM and checked in to our really nice room with an exceptional view over the park and the lake from up above. The dinner was really good and rather copious. 

The next morning we set out for a game drive in Lake Mburo park, we first followed the trail left from the lake, where there was quite some traffic from locals who went fishing or gathered dead wood. We spotted some monkeys, warthog, waterbuck and antilope. We took the road to the little fishing village where villagers were just inspecting the caught fish from the lake. We returned to the Sanga gate and continued on the Antilope track. Here we saw zebras in several herds. We continued towards the shore of the lake, where we stopped near the water to take pictures of hippos, king fishers, fish eagle, weaver birds and a crocodile. 

We returned in a loop towards the Antilope track to return to the lodge for lunch. After a siesta we returned to the park and this time chose Acacia track and the following research track. 

Here we spotted a large herd of giraffe with several small calves, topi and buffalo. We saw some vultures, a hornbill, and even a family of mongoose, so cute!

We did not reach the lookout point over the two lakes, because we had to be back at the gate by 7 PM. But it was a good game drive!

After a very noisy night because of an all night party with really loud music from the village below, we got up early the next morning to be at the gate at 7 AM for a walking safari. Luckily we had brought earplugs with us, so we were able to sleep most of the night. We had an appointment with our guide Mozes for a walking safari. The cost is 15 dollar per person. We first drove into the park to the Zebra track where we parked our car and started walking. Mozes told us a lot about plants, insect life, birds, and eventually we found the giraffes. We walked close to the giraffes and Mozes also told us a lot about them. We walked a bit further but apart from some buffalo from a distance (and we wanted to keep our distance ) we did not see a lot of wildlife. So we walked back to the car and Mozes lead us to two water pools where we found a lot of wildlife, even hippos were resting in the water. On the way back Mozes entertained us with stories about nature and local culture. We arrived back at Sanga gate around 11:40 AM. Mozes had given us a lot for our money. After lunch in the lodge we took a short siesta, and we returned to the park around 2 PM. We drove towards the two water pools again, in the first pool zebra were drinking and on the side eland and buffalo were resting. Around the pool waterbuck, antilope and warthog were roaming. We drove to the second pool and beyond it on Research track where we found a smaller pool with one hippo who can be aggressive according to Mozes. We paused at the second pool on Research Track, observing the hippos which were active. A bit later the giraffes came to drink as well. And we spotted the first bushbuck. When returning to the first pool on Link Track between Research and Ruroko Track we spotted a huge python just along the road while it slithered back to its hole on an old termite hill. Funnily the first water hole was now complete empty, not one animal was there, they must have been scared of by something (a leopard?) So we started our way back to the gate, passing by another water hole between research and Acacia track, which was now also empty. We left the park a bit before seven, and ended the last game drive of our holiday. 

We enjoyed another tasty dinner and a bit later there was a complete power outage. The lodge is powered by solar energy alone, and the batteries had suddenly gone completely empty. The lights in our room still worked, but no more WiFi or lights in the main area. Luckily, I had already charged everything I needed. 

We got up a little later the next morning and had our breakfast at 8 AM. They did not have electricity or WIFI yet, but we could pay our bill by credit card without a problem. We received our packed lunches, a vegetable sandwich and a Rolex and two packs of French fries, which was a bit of a waste, because cold French fries aren’t very tasty. 

We drove from Mburo to Entebbe, and decided to make a stop at Mabamba Swamp which lies on the way to Entebbe. We first made a stop at Lyantonde, about half an hour drive from Mburo park, to fuel up at a Total or Shell station. The Total station did not accept credit cards, so we drove to the Shell station. They did accept credit cards but were almost out of fuel. Still they managed to fill our tank. Almost the whole route is on tarmac roads, except for the last part, at Mpami you take a left, and from there you are on dirt roads again. When we reached Mabamba swamp someone from the office immediately met us at our car and accompanied us to the little office. There we were told it would cost around 60 dollars each for the canoe ride to spot the shoebill. In our Brady guide they mentioned a price of around 30 dollars each. You have to pay a fixed rate for the community and then a non published price for the canoe ride. It was already 3 PM so we decided not to take the canoe trip since we had already seen the shoebill in Ziwa. The whole atmosphere around the Mabamba swamp felt unsympathetic. 

We continued our way towards Entebbe when we suddenly arrived at the ferry crossing. We hadn’t realised we had to take the ferry on this road. A line had already formed, and I got out of the car to get more information. The ferry would take another 30 min. to get to the landing where we were waiting, and there is only place for 8 to 10 cars on the ferry. The ferry is free of charge. A lady started giving passes to the cars in the line, and we were unfortunately too far in line and would have to wait for the next ferry. That meant we would have to wait at least 1,5 hour plus another 30 min for the ferry crossing. We turned around and took a right in Kasanje, this road is for the most part a dirt road that comes unto the road between Entebbe and Kampala. It took us another 1,5 to 2 hours hour to drive to the guesthouse, the Guinea Fowl. This time Esther had given us an upgrade of our room, so we slept in a spacious room with a beautiful bathroom that night. 

We had dinner at the guesthouse, enjoyed the evening on the porch and had a great nights rest. The next morning we drove to Kampala after breakfast, via the toll road to Kisementi. In the morning it is still ok to find a parking space in front of the Acacia mall. We did some shopping at Banana Boat and a very nice clothing shop next to the Bistro on Kisementi parking and at Kampala Fair on Bukoto street. We had lunch on the terrace of the Cafesserie in the Acacia Mall. We then drove to the residence of the Belgian Ambassador, who is a dear friend of ours, for a drink, and his driver dropped us off downtown Kampala near the Kampala old taxi park, to visit the Mukwano textiles market, where we bought some traditional textiles. We were the only Muzungas (white people) at the market, but we really loved the place. We drove back to Entebbe en filled up our tank at a Total gas station. 

We arrived at the guesthouse around 6 PM and ordered dinner for 7:30 PM. At 7 PM Roadtrip Africa picked up our rental car, we had dinner and at 9 PM the taxi (included in the rate of the guest house) picked us up to bring us to the airport of Entebbe which is less than 15 min. away.

Before entering the airport we had to show proof of vaccination, our tickets and our yellow fever vaccine. 

We checked in, and our boarding pass was checked several times before we could board the plane. We had a good and eventless flight and arrived 15 min. ahead of schedule in Brussels where my husband could pick up his IPad he had forgotten on the plane from Brussels to Entebbe 16 days earlier.  

2 thoughts on “Self drive trip through Uganda – part 5 – Lake Mburo and Kampala

  1. Thankyou for writing this blog – I loved reading it as we are thinking of doing something similar 🙂
    Two questions please:
    1. why did you not visit Queen Elizabeth National Park?
    2. was your RAV4 car fine for the bad roads, or do you wish you had a Landcruiser or Hilux?

    • We did not visit Queen Elizabeth national park because we wanted to take enough time in each park, and not rush through, so we had to make choices and therefor skipped QENP. We only had 16 days and wanted to stay three nights in each location. The RAV4 was completely fine for all the roads, tarred road and potholed roads, so we did not feel the need to have a larger car. It might be a different story if you travel in the rainy season, then a sturdier car might be a better choice, but we travelled at the start of the dry seasons. Hope this helps!

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